Psa 139:1   O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Psa 139:2  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
Psa 139:3  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
Psa 139:4  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
Psa 139:5  Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Behind and Before

“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.”—Psalm 139:5

“Thou hast beset me behind!” He deals with the enemy in the rear, the foe that lurks in our yesterdays. He does not ignore the dark heritage that bears down upon us from the past. Not only behind, but before, as well! He deals with the enemy in the front, the foe that seems to hide in our to-morrows. “And laid Thine hand upon me!” He deals with the immediate need, and gives us witness of His intimate knowledge, His full defence, and His absolute  security.

We are assured here, my friends, that He understands us completely; He knows all our idiosycrasies; He is intimate with each of our peculiar weaknesses: He knows where the hedge is most thin and vulnerable, and where our lives are most easily invaded and defiled.

In these verses, our Heavenly Father explains and assures us of His intimate knowledge of our many separate, yet  individual lives.

“O Lord, Thou hast searched me.” The examination has been most thorough and penetrating. Every nook and corner has been explored. Nothing has been overlooked,  “I, the Lord, search the heart.”

“And known me.” It is the unique, individual knowledge of an intimate friend, who knows your every step, like no other. As our Lord said,  “I know my sheep.”

“Thou knowest my downsitting.” He is present in our seasons of meditation, in the hours when we sit down to wonder, and when we lay down to rest. In these times, He helps to shape and direct our lives.

“And mine uprising.” He is an intimate presence when meditation is ended, and the day has arrived. He knows when our responses become actions, and His plans are being fulfilled, both in and through each of us.

“Thou understandest my thought afar off.” He discerns the faintest beginnings of our thoughts; the mental germs, so to speak.  He sees our plans long before they are incarnated into actions. He sees it “afar off,” when it is only a trembling suggestion, and when it passes almost imperceptibly across the threshold of the mind.

“Thou searchest out my path.” He knows the way we will go. He knows all the windings of the road. He knows when it is “straight” and when it is “crooked.” He knows all the means we employ. “He is acquainted with all my ways.”

“There is not a word in my tongue, but lo! O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.” He watches life as it blossoms at the lips. He marks the kindly vehicle of grace. He notes the ungainly vehicle of malice and ill-will. He knows the contents of all our conversations, and how they are often determined and coloured by the threats and flatteries of men.

Surely this God, our Heavenly Father, knows us as no other can! He is intimate with all our personal make-ups, with our own individual, peculiar weaknesses, and he knows just what is needed to render us strong and invulnerable.

Because He has chosen us, known us, and loved us from the beginning, He has covered us with His shield.

“Thou hast beset me behind.” He stands between us and our enemies in the rear virw mirror. He defends us from the hostility of our own pasts. He does not cut us away from my yesterdays. Consequences are not annihilated; their operations are changed. . The Lord “besets us behind” and the sins of yesterday no longer send their poisoned swords into our lives. They are changed into the ministers of godliness, nourishing godly sorrow, and humility, and meekness, and self-mistrust. The failures and indiscretions of yesterday are no longer creatures of moral impoverishment and despair. He “besets us behind,” and they become the teachers of a quiet wisdom in our daily walk.

“And before.” He comes between us and the enemies of tommorow, and their assaults that so often disturb our  peace of today,  and He enables us to live and labor within His garden, in a fruitful, exhilarating calm.

“And laid Thine hand upon me.” And the hand suggests the sweet sense of companionship — the  child awakes in the night, afraid in the darkness and the stillness, but as He puts out His hand  and  rests it upon the troubled brow,  the little one sinks to rest again. “O, let me feel Thee near me!” “Only in the darkness just to feel Thy hand.”

And the hand suggests the ministry of safety. You are His, called out and chosen before the creation of the world; redeemed at an exceedingly high price; none shall pluck you out of His hands, my friends. He will be your shield and buckler, and your stalwart of defense; with these defences we are safe. In these hands our security is complete.

As David contemplated all these things, his soul began to rejoice; as evidenced in the next verses in the psalm:

Psa 139:6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Psa 139:7  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
Psa 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
Psa 139:9  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Psa 139:10  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Psa 139:11  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Psa 139:12  Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
Psa 139:13  For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

Oh my friends, from before the beginnings of all time our Father has known us with an intimacy seated deep within our souls. He has succored us; guided and prepared us;  strengthened us; and possessed us. We are His, and He has not dropped us off to fall, or fend for ourselves in a deeply dark and desturbing time — for always, my friends, His hand shall lead you, each of you, and His right hand shall hold you, each of you; for the darkness hides us not from Him. As a matter of fact, it goes much deeper than that: each of us was chosen and prepared for the times in which we live and die — we are here – now – at His chosing, for His purposes, and unto His glory. Lean hard on our Heavenly Father and He will guide your steps; let His light shine forth in the darkness, and He will be your buckler and shield. I have seen much darkness ahead, and death on an unimaginable scale ahead, my friends. A recent flash vision of carnage in the Middle East literally shook me. Now, more than ever, we should draw courage and joy from these verses; for He knows us completely; intimately – each of us – here we see that He has prepared and strengthened us – each of us – for the times of our lives; and here we have His witness that His hand will lead us, and His right hand shall hold us – EACH OF US! Take strength, my friends in His Living Word, in His Living promises, and in His Living presence; and He will be that light about us in the darkness — to hedge and protect from that darkness.